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Bonjour for WindowsIt’s a miracle that people running XP/Vista can ever get anything done.  As friends of mine will know our house is all Mac except for my girlfriend’s HP notebook (which, inexplicably, doesn’t shut down when you close it… but that’s another story).  Since I’m sharing a printer, my HP OfficeJet 6200 series, from an Apple Airport Extreme connected to my home network, one would think this would have been a piece of cake.  But oh-ho!

The networking stuff used to be the hard part, but Apple’s bonjour makes it easy.  But as for installing the correct drivers, the Windows world knows no delimiters of common sense..  Two hours later I had performed the correct sequence of incantations and solved the problem so I thought I’d share the misery with you here in the hopes of saving you an hour or so.

To save the rest of us the same nightmare I endured, here’s how you do it.  Note that this assumes you already have Bonjour printing working for the Macs in your household.  That’s actually fairly intuitive to set up and I need not cover it here.  Here goes:

  1.  You need a driver since whatever printer you’re going to use is likely not a part of your Windows install.  Go to the HP web site and download their giant bloatware driver pack for your Windoze box.
  2. Gone are the days when you could just locate the driver someplace and have Windows install it normally.  Once the above pack has exploded itself into your hard drive, you need to “fool” XP into installing the driver.  Plug your Windoze machine directly into the printer via USB (hope it’s a laptop!).  It should detect the printer and automagically install the drivers.  Once done, “Print Test Page” to make sure it works.
  3. Don’t delete this printer yet, but go ahead and unplug the USB.  Instead, install the Bonjour drivers for Windows on to your Windows XP box.
  4. Open the “Add Printer” tool from the Bonjour folder that now appears in your Start menu.  If you’re still connected to the network and the printer’s again connected to whatever Apple device is sharing the printer, your computer should detect it.  Since the driver has also been installed, the appropriate driver, in my case “HP OfficeJet 6200 series”, should appear as an option.
  5. Delete the USB printer and make the Bonjour printer the default from within the Windows  “Printers & Fax” menu item.

That’s pretty-much it.  It only took me two hours to figure out how to fool Windows into installing the driver, as I couldn’t seem to mine it directly from within the installer or the folders HP placed the drivers into (which I still can’t dig up).

On to my next battle.. hope this helps!

-Ian.

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